Friday, September 26, 2008

Tender Time..

Firstly, apologies this is a long post. I guess this blog is cathartic for all the frustration and tedium, so I do ramble on a bit.
Hmm, how do you approach tender? With trepidation, angst, confusion, fear, worry, joy, relief? Many emotions ran through me on the way to the tender appointment. Although we have built two houses previously, we have never been through the "tender" system.
We got there pretty much on time and then had to wait about 1/2 an hour -45 minutes because the morning appointment was still going. Our appointment was for 1pm. Nothing you can do, but it seems like forever, waiting, waiting Note to self: make all further appointments first thing in the morning!

It will come as no surprise to many of you reading this, that the first thing to blow us away was the amount of the site costs. Hmm, 12K sounds OK (our sales quote had 20K) then the slab upgrade and the services upgrade and holy cow, the retaining walls. All up just over $27.5K. Bend over sunshine! After the shock of that, our presenter "D" started to go through each item we had requested. Good news was that most of them were under what I had budgeted them to be! I had a few swings and roundabouts but mostly pretty positive UNTIL I got out the laptop (yeah I know, I prefer to think of myself as a detail person ;-) The first item extended the front of the house. Not there on the list? Hmmm, flick through the file, there is the layout on the block from the sales appointment with red pen scribbling this out and NO written on it.
Excuse Me???? If you have read previous posts, you will know that PD took quite a while to contact me, supposedly because this specific request had to be approved before they would accept and prepare a tender WTF? We did not go ballistic, we told "D" what had happened previously and what we had been told. This was hardly his fault but we were polite and firm and informed him that this was a deal breaker; minimum was we add AT LEAST 1m into the study and some into the bedrooms, or he was wasting our time, have a pleasant life and we will leave now thanks.

To his credit, "D" took off to see what the situation was. After about 10 minutes he came back and asked us for some time to work through with drafting, estimating and all the areas to try to come up with a solution for us. We took off for an hour and then came back.
Good news and bad news, firstly he explained that they are volume builders not custom builders, once we ask for too many changes or change the basic structure etc then we are falling into that category, fair enough. No harm, no foul, po'd that we'd wasted over a month but whatever.

So, he then came out with the compromise. The could extend the study ONLY by a metre explaining that this was because of roof pitches, tresses and angles, but they could in turn put 1m into the body of the house and we could then move the walls in bed 2 and 3 down to get 500mm in each. Also means an extra 1m in the pantry (yipee!) and in the lounge room. We think that this was a really good compromise. PD are a volume builder and we recognised that and would have walked away, but they came to the party to do the best they could do within their systems for us, which was great. Bad news was that "S" has had to sacrifice extra space in the garage that could not be accommodated due to the roof trusses/pitches/technical thingys.

On a further note, because of these couple of issues it was well after 6 when we left and we missed things. I emailed "N" our CSC the next morning about some but pored over the plans today and realised that I think PD have missed some things (swapping alum windows for timber in the alfresco) that I had asked for by email on the 15th. Emailed again today to ask if that was the case.... we are waiting to hear back.

I really think it is very difficult to try to do everything in 3-4 hours especially when in shock! I also realise that if you don't have a cut off people will change their minds 4 times a day. I have changed my kitchen colours at least three times this week alone...still not sure....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bemused by National Tiles

Well, we did our tiles appointment on the 12th. "N" was busy so she promised to draw them all up, plot them and quote them either that day or over that weekend. She did not have the Illoura 36 loaded into her computer. So, instead of waiting, seeing it all, getting a quote etc, we went home and waited for the email.
Today is the 23rd and I now have an email. The tiles are about $400 under my budget which is good. But, (isn't there always a but!)
  • The drawings she has used to "plot" them have someone else's name and address on them. Personally, I would not be happy if they start sending my name and address to other people.
  • The ensuite on the floorplan does not have a spa and we do, although she appears to have drawn it on the elevations, so I am not sure that the sizing, therefore will the quote be correct.
  • There are codes on the drawings that do not match the codes on the quote, so which one takes precendence?
  • There are wrong codes and wrong tiles.

It seems that this all gets requoted again once we get contract drawings anyway??

So, my question is did anyone else have any of this happen to them with national tiles and did your tile quote change much between the quote before and after contract?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Exterior Colour Selections

For weeks now, I have been driving my children demented. I could not settle on the brick/exterior colours for our new home. We have driven to heaps of display houses and done drive bys of numerous houses and it just was not working! Today I was told that "we are fed up with looking at bricks!!!" in no uncertain terms and basically that was it.

So S and I left the children with Nanma and went on another quest looking for bricks and an external colour scheme. I liked Austral's Newport but there is another PD house just around the corner from our block. I knew I wanted white or off white windows, as I want a clean crisp look to the house both inside and out, so that too affected the brick choice. I liked La Trobe but we have seen so many variations of colour with this brick, it appears it has really changed since they moved factories. Homestead Tan looks good, but there appear to be a lot of brown brick houses around us. I liked canterbury, but we have it on our current home, so I did not really want to take it with us to the new house.

Today's trip took us to Cranbourne North and we saw a display house with "Nougat" bricks and flush off-white mortar. We both really liked it but we were sure that it would be "another upgrade". We had already upgraded to cat 4 bricks ($2.3k) when we thought we would have the Newport. So off we went to Hopetoun to find out how much more this was going to cost. Whoo Hooo!!!!! They are a cat 1 brick, so just saved $2.3K. However, we decided that the Tudor roof tile would look best, so we need to upgrade to cat 2 roof tiles. Bet that wipes out any saving on the bricks.
So the exterior colours are: (drumroll please)

Bricks: Austral Nougat - cat 1
Roof: Monier Barramundi in Tudor profile - cat 2
Gutters and Fascia: Colorbond Ironstone - Upgrade to colorbond from Zincalume (still think that on a Prestige house, you should get this standard!)
Downpipes: Colorbond Ironstone (upgrade)
Garage Door: Colorbond Ironstone
Windows: SouthernStar Birch White
We are having the Traditional Facade with no render anywhere and no portholes (if you see the sketch you'll understand) all in all the house will be a house, clean lines in crisp colour.
Tender on Wednesday, fingers crossed all goes well and we get a November 2008 start.
Now, if I could just decide on colours for the kitchen.....

Friday, September 12, 2008

Colours, Tiles and Cash

Today I went to National Tiles for our tile appointment. If you have read earlier posts, you will know I was not happy that I could not choose any tile I wanted if I was prepared to pay for it. This was because they had brown, tan, beige,cream, with colours of black, white and red. So NOT me. Neutral is something for a gear stick, not for a house.
What a fabulous surprise it was to meet "N" who was simply sensational. I had chosen some ideas for laminex colours for the wet areas and I needed to pull these together with the tiles. No problems. She looked and found exactly what was needed.
For the bathroom, I was able to choose a feature glass tile which is 5 different shades of blue/green which matched the laminex I wanted for the cabinet and a white marbled tile for the wall/floor which matched the laminex for the bench top. If you look at the picture you can see them all together. The feature tile will be the background for the niche in the shower and two rows will be used along the top of the bath. It seems that mirrors now come down to the benchtops, so I asked to get a row of tiles above the vanity (can't stand water marks on mirrors from hand washing). I also chose a "capping tile" in the deeper green to go around the mirror, to "frame it".

The powder room is going to have the same floor/wall tile on the floor and as a row above the vanity. I am thinking I may have the same laminex for the cabinet and benchtop, but I am not sure yet. I use black as the cabinet and stay with the "carrara" for the benchtop.

The laundry is going to be black and white, here is the floor tile. It is a black marbled effect with the lighter colours swirled through it being a purplish/grey colour. I actually chose a white rippled tile but you don't get samples of those because everyone knows what a white tile looks like. I am thinking of laminex "burnished plum" cabinets with a white benchtop otherwise it will be black cabinets.

And finally, my favourite, the ensuite tiles. I chose a cream marbled tile for the main tile in here, for the spa, the shower and above the vanity. I also chose glass pencil tiles in aubergine and lavender as a feature to being out the purples and aubergines in the marble effect. Lovely!

The picture shows the marbled tile at the top, the black tulip laminate for the cabinets, burnished plum for the bench top and an unusual coloured tile for the floor. It is almost a plum/brown toned tile, that seems to take on the colour of what it is near. Putting the plum/purples of the laminate near it makes it a plum based colour. Unfortunately, this picture does not really show the depth in the marbled tile.

I also chose an aubergine "capping tile" for the mirror surround as well. Although "N" had to go find if they had these anymore, but she found them! And the best bit, apart from the capping tiles, pencil features and glass features for the bathroom, the lot were standard tiles. How good is that! Just have to wait on the final pricing now but I am sure that I am within budget.
Off to hopetoun for a bit of investigation over the weekend. Toodle pip!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Contact at last...

Time to give you an update. S has "done" his knee (last Friday) so things have been a bit of a write off since then. Yesterday, we had a call from N at PD who introduced herself as our Customer Service person (CSC). She was great, I sat on the phone for about an hour with her as I was pretty PO'd that we had had no contact in the nearly three weeks since we signed.
Apparently, as we added 1.5 mtrs to the length of the house, it needs to go through some approval process where they decide if they will actually accept our request to build it.
Well, it seems that they have because N, now has the file. I told her that we were going to pull out because of the no contact issues etc, reasoning that if this was the service level before we signed, what would it be like after???
But now have had a rethink and looked at this dispassionately, we want this house, they build this house, at a price we are willing to pay at the moment. so, we will take it through to tender and see how we go. It maybe too rich for our blood, but if we don't investigate we will not find out. We made appointments for tender and contract on the basis that we will go ahead.
We have made the tile appointment so then we will know what we are up for as far as tiles goes. Hopetoun is supposed to ring later this week so we can tee that up too. We may go down there this weekend and get a feel for how many upgrades we'll see there too.
All in all feeling much more positive now we know what is going on. N certainly has gone out of her way to make us feel better about the whole process.
But just to make sure, we will investigate the custom builder price as well and go with what feels best at the time. That should be some time next week.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Feeling a bit uncomfortable

The title says it all really. We went back to the display over the weekend to check out some areas of the house and to check room sizes, as I am concerned at the really small bedrooms. S and I spoke about it and we are feeling a bit uncomfortable with the "PD experience" at the moment. The tiles thing is really worrying me, basically we can only choose from what they say we can have regardless that NT have others available in their showroom. We have a lot of provisions in our sales quote and the provision for site costs has jumped from 15k initially to 20k and it is still unconfirmed until tender.
From reading the forum at HomeOne ( PD seem to be very bad at the communication bit and very good at saying "no", even when they have said "yes" to the same thing on other builds. That is our experience at the moment for sure. It also looks like quite a few upgrades are the opportunity to bite a bit harder. But that is the price for a volume builder. We are questioning if that price is too high for us.
We have decided to keep our options open and keep looking at other houses, the Metricon Bel-Air 37 looks a possibility or the 33 with some changes. We have also given a sketch plan of the best bits of all the houses we have seen to the guy we bought our land from, as they work with a builder and we will see what they come up with. We'll get to tender with PD and then assess it at that point.
We are not committed until we sign on the contract and PD would do well to remember that fact, and a bit of service (or a returned phone call) would go along way.